Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Kontinuum : Earth blood Majick
Going into the initial listens of the album I was unsure how the Icelandic band got tagged with black metal label as it starts of as more of a driving post rock thing. Post rock to metal has become a much more common marriage in the past five years, ranging from Agalloch's excursions into it to bands like Pelican and Russian Circles, Kontinuum has a more different take on it, there sound often wavers more toward the side of Interpol and their guitar sound holds a lot of twinkling ambiance but none of the dissonance found in black metal.
About three and a half minutes into the song " Steinrunninn Skorgur" harsh vocals gurgle to the surface. The songs are well textured and dynamically ambitious, but it's almost hard to call this metal so I have to listen to this with out expectations of it being dark or heavy. It does have drive, and when the chanted vocals come in it still feels more like Isis than even Enslaved , though I suppose if you were desperate to play musical connect the dots they would be the only black metal-ish act and even then there more recent work.
The vocals take an Peter Murphy turn on "moonshine" which is something Im not going to complain about but it walks them further from what would be considered metal, even though the guitar his some powerful chord progressions that flirt with metal , it's not until the riff four minutes in that I hear metal, this would be a good album to have very tired and groggy late night sex to as no jack hammering is required and the band never fully stays hard for any length of time, screams return to the back ground set against the more goth tinged vocals.
The staccato bass of " Stranger Air" off sets the Sydd Barrett glaze on the melodies. The tempo picks up in the last two minutes a steady drive but not a blast beat, in sight and despite the fact this album is lighter fare it is still very well crafted hits my ears to better effect than say opeth's " heritage" album.
"light bearer " is the first to hold a chug, but it feels more like Feilds of the Nephillim, despite the increased attack to the guitar and more emphasis place on the growls. We get about as close to black metal with out a full on blasty here around the two minute mark and to be honest when they pick it up tothat speed it's not there forte, particularly the guitars who avoid the tremolo feel altogether here.
"city" picks up more metal cred, and almost an iron maiden moment or two here.It's also one of the more adventurous songs on the album. An almost thrash riff sneaks in and I guess this could all be due to a Mastodon influence , but I don't really see the Georgia band having a big impact in Iceland. Few listens later and recognize how close the bass line gets to "wrath child" and it's puts the influences in perspective.
"Lys Milda Ljos" finds the band at its most evenly blended mix of dynamics, harder drive yet twinkle of effected guitar, if I was going to point some one in the direction of what this band does best this would be my pick. The drumming on this one really stands out and does an interesting build.a
The song "red" oddly uses female vocals , and made me stop to check and see if my ipodhad shuffled onto the new Gathering album. Not a bad song, in fact it might have worked better to close the album than the weepy piano melodrama that follows for no good reason.
Sure I have been musing a lot on how unmetal this album is, this is not to detour from th fact this is more often than not well crafted an original enough and I think has enough drives to appeal to metal heads even though there is no way in nine hells this should be called black metal.I will give this album a 7.5 as its a worthwhile listen despite the some of its heavier moments running away with them into murk which keeps it from reaching an eight though it could grow on me either way at this point though it's spookiers elements should prove endearing over time.